A message from the Commissioner
The Canada Revenue Agency's (CRA) 2017-18 Departmental Results Report underscores the CRA's efforts to strive for excellence in everything we do in administering the tax and benefit programs that sustain the social and economic well-being, and trust, of Canadians.
During 2017-18, the CRA continued on its journey to transform into a client-centric tax administration. The World-Class Tax and Benefit Administration (WCTBA) initiative helped us to look at the Agency as a whole to identify our strengths and point out how we can achieve better results for Canadians. Through this exercise, and through feedback provided by Canadians, we have learned that, while we are doing many things well, there are aspects of our administration that need fundamental change.
This past year the Agency faced a number of challenges. For example, there were issues with fairness in our administration of the disability tax credit. There were also transitional challenges under the Service Renewal initiative that led to temporary processing delays. Meanwhile, the Auditor General's Fall 2017 Report on our call centres identified issues with the quality of service Canadians received when using our telephone enquiries lines.
We are committed to providing Canadians with the best possible service, and are taking steps to improve our performance in these areas.
As part of our efforts to bring about change within the Agency, we continued to improve the culture of service throughout our organization. The goal of providing Canadians with world-class, client-centred service is to treat citizens with empathy and fairness and to make it easy for them to comply voluntarily with their tax obligations. To help with our service journey, we appointed the CRA's first Chief Service Officer (CSO). Creating this position will help to implement an overarching and integrated service agenda for the Agency in the years to come, one where taxpayers and benefit recipients are the focus of the programs we design and deliver.
In striving to meet the service expectations of Canadians, we continued during the year to expand our digital service options, especially our ability to transmit and receive communications electronically with taxpayers. Advancing our service culture, however, also means recognizing that not all Canadians have access to electronic services and digital devices. The Agency continues to provide and enhance service options that can be accessed by Canada's most vulnerable citizens, including seniors, Indigenous peoples, and individuals and families with modest incomes. During the year, the Agency adopted an updated Strategy for Vulnerable Populations to guide our outreach activities and the Community Volunteer Income Tax Program (CVITP) over the next three years. The Agency's proposal to expand the CVITP, increase the number of participating organizations, and support year-round benefit clinics was included in Budget 2018.
One insight we gained from the WCTBA initiative in 2017-18 was that improving communication between program areas can lead to better performance and results. The appointment of the Agency's CSO and first Chief Data Officer (CDO) during the year marked a step in that direction. The establishment of the CDO role will especially help the Agency improve our data integration and our data quality standards and processes across branches.
The Agency's use of business intelligence and advanced data analytics has helped us respond to the realities of a globalized tax environment and address many international non-compliance issues. Ongoing and enhanced international cooperation has been key as well. During the year, I continued to serve as Vice-Chair of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development's Forum on Tax Administration. The Forum has helped us gain numerous insights on how best to deal with multinational corporations that use aggressive tax planning and shift profits overseas to avoid paying taxes. It has also given us the opportunity to share our experiences and best practices with other tax administrations. Over the course of 2017-18, the CRA heightened its focus on tax scheme promoters and on individuals and corporations that try to avoid or evade taxes by hiding their income offshore.
Our goal in striving for full compliance is to uphold the fairness and integrity of the tax system and ensure that everyone fulfills their obligations under Canada's tax laws. To this end, we will continue to audit, verify and match, but will also emphasize education and outreach as a means of achieving compliance over the long term.
In submitting this report, I want to thank all of the Agency's employees and acknowledge their efforts in fulfilling their responsibilities on behalf of Canadians throughout 2017-18. Their work contributed significantly to the quality of life that has earned Canada such an enviable reputation world-wide. It is the ongoing dedication, knowledge, and professionalism of our employees that will ensure we continue to achieve our priorities and objectives, advance our service culture, and continue to help us meet expectations of being a truly world-class tax and benefit administration.
Commissioner of the Canada Revenue Agency
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